Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 27, 1952
NUMBER 46, PAGE 1,13

Second Reply To Brother Tant's Accusations

E. V. Pullias, Dean, Pepperdine College

A little later I plan to reply in some detail to brother Tant's extended editorial of February 23. However, since his main criticism of my behavior since I have been in California seems to be that he believes I speak too much in too many places, I am requesting him to present the following article which sets forth reasonably clearly my position on this problem, which seems to disturb him so. The article presented below has appeared in other journals published by our brethren, but I feel that since brother Tant makes such an issue of the problem of where one should speak the readers of the Gospel Guardian should know my view on this subject.

Before giving the article I should like, however, to say one other word since it may be some time before my more detailed reply appears in the Guardian. I should like to mention again that brother Tant is mistaken about my offering the invitation when I spoke at Bakersfield, for I gave no such invitation either there or anywhere else. There were probably one hundred people present at the Bakersfield lecture, including the two elders from one of the local churches of Christ, and I am sure they will all witness that I had no part in the program except my speech on "Christian Education."

The two elders talked with me very frankly and in a fine brotherly spirit after the meeting. I am confident that these men have not given brother Tant a false report of what happened. I hope brother Tant will have the courage to make a public correction as soon as he checks the facts. Let us hope that brother Tant will make as much effort to spread the correction, as he has to distribute the original false report.

This simple, but apparently intentional, error in fact reported several times by brother Taut is typical, I regret to say, of his irresponsible reporting described in my first reply. Several older brethren, who have known brother Tant many years, and his father before him, have expressed deep concern and bewilderment at this strange disregard for truth by one who assumes a place of leadership in the body of Christ. His bitterness must indeed be great to press him to such action, particularly in cases where the facts are publicly known and can be checked by any interested person.

It may be that brother Tant does not intentionally distribute falsehood but that he rushes into print or speech with hearsay and rumor without checking their accuracy. For example, I am sure that brother Tant will acknowledge that he knows almost nothing personally about Pepperdine College. All he has reported is hearsay and most of it, as we shall show in later articles, is false or is a distortion of half-truths as are the reports that I offered the invitation at the Christian Church or that I have affiliated with the Christian Church.

I repeat, such irresponsibility in talking about a brother is serious, but in reporting error about an institution involving the integrity and work of many brethren, it is tragic. Unfortunately, no amount of correction or apology can remedy the harm done in spreading rumor, as every Christian knows. If I report something false about a brother, the fact that I was careless and that later I correct the report and am sorry still leaves the damage done. I may be ever so sorry that I pulled the trigger of an "unloaded" gun, but that does not restore the friend who was wounded or killed.

I hate very much to mention these derogatory personal things about brother Tant. They are not proper matters for public discussion before the sacred body of Christ, but I believe should be looked into by the local elders of the congregation where brother Tant worships.

I mention these things here only because brother Tent persists in spreading false reports designed to damage a great work. If these libelous reports were merely about me personally, I am sure it would be wrong for me to attempt to make a public defense. The Christ-like life is indeed excellent and the hope of the world but sometimes very difficult for us mortals to follow. "...Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do..." (Luke 23:84); or "...when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously." (1 Pet. 2:23) These Christ-like examples are certainly difficult to follow, particularly when attacks are personal and seem to be malicious. Nevertheless, we can strive toward no less ideal than to follow the example of our beloved Master.

The article follows:

Where Shall I Speak?

Any person who has a reasonably responsible position will be asked to speak in many places and on many subjects. If one's work is education or preaching, the demand for speeches will be especially great. Apparently American people must have speeches wherever and whenever they meet, and it is quite natural for them to turn to men and women whose work is speaking when a speech is wanted. The disciple of Christ feels a great responsibility to use all of his energies and abilities wisely — that is, as God would have them used. Thus, the question as to when, and how he will speak becomes an important problem for a sincere Christian.

Here is a typical list of requests that come to a Christian engaged in educational work.

(1) A request to preach for a neighboring Church of Christ congregation Sunday morning and Sunday night, necessitating the missing of one's home congregation worship and Sunday school class.

(2) A Lion's Club on Wednesday noon — subject of one's own selection.

(3) A women's club in a neighboring town on "The Control of Alcohol."

(4) A women's club on "How to Study the Bible."

(6) A group of Lutheran young people in a Lutheran Church Tuesday evening on "Compulsory Military Training."

(6) A group of Methodist young people at a Methodist Church on "What Does the Church of Christ Teach?"

(7) A group of Church of Christ young people at a Church of Christ on "Christian Marriage."

(8) A Rotary Club at a restaurant on a topic to be chosen.

(9) A group of Sunday school teachers in a neighboring city in a Congregational Church on "The Gospel of Christ."

(10) A series of talks on "The Christian Family," at a Church of Christ in a neighboring city.

As anyone knows who is in public work, the list could go on indefinitely. (Let me hasten to say that I am not hinting that I am a popular speaker and in great demand. In fact, neither is the case. The point is — there is much demand for speaking.)

Where and when is the Christian to speak and teach? For many years my answer to this question was simply — namely, (1) if time was available; (2) if there was a free hand to teach what I considered to be true on the subject; (3) if there was a reasonable assurance of an audience that could be taught, then I accepted. Additional years of experience, however, have caused me to conclude that the problem is more complex than I had once thought.

There are many and some very strange views held by people on this problem. Some feel that a speaker can wisely speak for any reputable group in a community except for religious groups considered more or less in error. Just how such people are to be taught unless they can be spoken to is not easy to understand. The objection to speaking to such people seems to rest upon the idea that anyone who meets with and speaks for a group endorses all that they teach. This view does not seem to be very defensible in the light of scriptural teaching and practice. The early Christian taught whenever and wherever they had opportunity. They were eager to teach the good news of the Gospel. It is difficult to imagine one of these Christians refusing to talk about Christ or anything that would bring further light about his Christ to the world.

Others say that it is all right to speak anywhere provided the speaker says the right thing. These people maintain that one should directly and immediately attack any error that may be present where the opportunity appears. Thus, if a speaker is appearing only once before an audience of heavy users of tobacco and he believes that the heavy user of tobacco is wrong; then he should by all means condemn this practice, whatever may be the circumstances of his speaking. If he does not do so, he is thought to be condoning the use of tobacco.

Certainly there is a problem for the Christian speaker here. If he speaks only in agreement with his audience, he will not teach them much. Further, if he equally avoids important issues for the purpose of pleasing his hearers, he will neglect the most important responsibility of all — namely, to teach vigorously and clearly the truth as he understands it. A Christian speaks as a servant (in a sense as a representative of God) and thus is under a charge to teach with power the full will of his Master.

But the most effective way to teach a message is a matter of judgment. It may be wise to strike directly and boldly at error in the situation where one speaks, or it may be wise to approach the area of difference gradually after some confidence has been established. There are numerous examples of both methods, both in the life of Christ and in his disciples. For example, Jesus carefully avoided revealing or proclaiming that he was the Christ until the opportune time had come — that is, until through many mighty works and teachings, he had laid a foundation for this truth. Whether his stinging denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees came to the end of much patient teaching or at once is difficult to say. The admonition, "Be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves," has received many interpretations, as is frequently the case in interpretation, the chief motive oftentimes being to satisfy the desires of the interpreter.

There are other views as to where and how one should speak, but the ones mentioned will suffice for illustration. What is the Christian to conclude on this matter? A few basic simple principles might help to guide him.

1. A Christian is eager to take advantage of every opportunity to teach what he believes to be true and important.

2. A Christian should be chiefly concerned with whether or not his teaching will do good at the particular time and place, rather than what his friends or enemies may think of his appearing. Persons who think first of what men will think and second of what God will think cannot be well pleasing in God's sight.

3. What should be taught on a given occasion and how the teaching should be done should be left to the judgment of the teacher. In making his judgment he should be guided by his desire to do good and should follow the procedure that he believes will do the most good.

4. The Christian will not be headstrong in this matter but will seek and heed the advice of brethren, especially older and wiser brethren, as to the wisdom of the when, where, and how of his speaking.

5. The Christian will continuously and prayerfully study the precepts and examples of scripture on this problem and will strive always to be guided by their wisdom.